Rules of Engagement
by Dan Warren
Remember the movie, “Rules of Engagement” with Tommy Lee
Jones and Samuel L. Jackson? Jones portrays a less-than-confident attorney
representing Jackson, who is accused of not following the Rules of Engagement.
In the trial process against Jackson, vital pieces of evidence have been
tampered with, destroyed or not disclosed. Jones’ persistence and determination
ultimately overcomes his less-than-confident appearance and he wins the
trial vindicating Jackson.
Persistence and determination: do these traits still exist today, as they
did, say, 30, 40 or 50 years ago? I believe they do. I also believe there
is one important ingredient missing for too many of our co-workers, employees
and hardworking American citizens: engagement. No, not rules of engagement,
but engagement—getting involved, getting the facts, understanding the
issues, letting your voice be heard, and making a concerted effort to
make a difference. Most of you reading this article are either owners
and/or in top management positions. As I visit with folks just like yourself,
I find that, just like me, you are engaged with your families, communities
and churches, as well as your businesses. You are knowledgeable and aware
of the current events happening in your businesses, our country and the
I have had this burning question in my mind for quite some time—“Are the
majority of American citizens engaged and aware of the events surrounding
them, or are they simply too busy or not interested?” I believe far too
many people in our country are being complacent and standing back waiting,
and, in some cases, hoping someone or something will be done about a particular
situation or issue. What if no one steps up?
"What I am saying
is that doing nothing and not caring are a dangerous combination."
Let me give an example. If you have read any of my previous
articles, you know my wife and I enjoy horseback riding in the Black Hills
of South Dakota. Recently, the National Park Service decided to create
a new hiking trail to the Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Public meetings
were conducted but only a couple of people representing horseback riders
showed up. There were a great number of hikers and mountain bikers who
attended the meeting and there was a consensus among those present that
horses should be banned from the new trail. Thankfully, the “couple of
people” who did show up contacted those of us who either ignored the meeting
notices or chose to wait for some else to do it. We became engaged and
a great number of people stepped up to protect what we believe are our
rights to ride horseback on the new trail. Ultimately our voices were
heard, but what if those few did not attend?
My guess is that you come to work on Monday morning, make your walk around
and two subjects are discussed among you and your co-workers: sports and
hunting. Well, okay, that’s here in South Dakota. In my company, current
affairs are rarely discussed. So, the question becomes, how do we engage
our co-workers and employees in what is happening in our country that
potentially could affect them?
I am amazed constantly at the number of people who feel their single voices
or votes will not make a difference. We need somehow to encourage others
to show them how vitally important their voices and votes are. Understand,
I am not stumping for either side, what I am saying is that doing nothing
and not caring are a dangerous combination. We, as business people, are
successful, but why? My bet is we have been determined and persistent
in our efforts and have chosen to engage. Have we failed at times? Hit
a few walls? Certainly we have, but we have not stopped trying and we
must encourage others to try.
I am not offering any concrete solutions other than the need to encourage
and support our employees on the path to becoming engaged. Leadership
very well may disagree on some issues and points, but the important thing
is we will help awaken a potentially silent majority that could make a
difference. For 46 years the Association of Millwork Distributors (AMD)
has been encouraging, supporting and motivating members to be active and
become engaged in their membership and their industry. AMD is an example
of how persistence and determination are successful.
Dan Warren is president of the Association of Millwork
Distributors and president of Warren Window and Supply Inc. in Rapid City,
S.D. His opinions are solely his own and do not necessarily reflect those
of this magazine.
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No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.